Thursday, August 28, 2014
11

奥巴马的比喻

纽黑文——在美国总统奥巴马开始其第二任任期之际,他需要用简单的方式来表述他的目标和经济政策——上述比喻理应聚拢支持其政策的力量,从而提高政府的执政效率。那么,究竟是什么造就了成功的比喻?

2008年奥巴马的竞选口号是“我们可以相信的变革”。但新政府以“变革”为喻并不恰当:因为它并不代表任何政策。“希望”或“我们能做到!”也同样如此。

2012年奥巴马的竞选口号选用 “前进!”一词。但这个词同样代表不了政府的基本理念和政策。自由或保守派的所有政治家都希望前进,而不想倒退。

奥巴马的竞选口号就是人们所说与整体概念架构无关的“死喻”。

相比之下,富兰克林·罗斯福总统在20世纪30年代所用的比喻今天依然充满活力。1932年他首次竞选总统期间就提出了“新政”的概念,虽然那时候他也并不清楚这个词的涵义。

显然,罗斯福及其撰稿人借用了斯图尔特·蔡斯1932年出版的著作《新政》,这本书让1932年成为《新共和》杂志的封面故事。蔡斯将新政笼统地描述为“在避免和过去彻底决裂的前提下大刀阔斧地改良经济结构”。尽管这本书提出的具体政策与罗斯福的后续措施并无相似之处,但罗斯福肯定注意到了书名所蕴含的感染力。

新政(交易)建立的形象是商业交易,比方说企业收购或者高管激励——签约双方可以在讨价还价之余达成一致。任何一方都不能将意愿强加给另一方。之所以称之为“交易”,罗斯福明确指出施政计划具有商业性质:它更像邀请你参与工作,抓住机遇。而且既然是交易就有好有坏,有公平也有榨取,“新”这个字眼暗示了比喻的深度,表明罗斯福新政更好、更公平,也更有吸引力。

这项比喻赢得了压倒多数选民的认可,代表罗斯福的目标是以本质上不违反资本主义的创新方法来挽救疲弱的经济。罗斯福政府的某些举措,如设立证券交易委员会(SEC)当时在某些人看来似乎有反商业的嫌疑,但打击不正当及操纵行为今天却早已被公认为能够促进竞争和活力。

事实证明比喻不光是说说而已。现代神经学证明比喻是创造力的核心因素,因为它们能够激活与多重涵义相关的不同大脑分区。好的比喻在头脑中激起恰当的直觉联系。比如科学家将声光想象为海浪就将对声光的理解推进了一步。

确定奥巴马第二任期的恰当比喻本身就要运用直观创造性思维考量他在连任后提出的计划。好的比喻可能体现一种“融合经济”的理念。“融合”这个词能引起强烈的共鸣:美国民众并不希望政府过于强大,而是希望政府能让更多人参与市场经济。民意调查显示美国人尤其关注就业,而创造就业机会恰恰可以视为融合的开始。

今天堪与蔡斯著作媲美的是由经济学家达龙·阿西莫格鲁和政治学家詹姆斯·罗宾逊合著的2012年畅销书《国家为什么失败》。达龙·阿西莫格鲁和罗宾逊认为在波澜壮阔的历史长河中,让所有人参与经济过程的政治秩序从长远看更有可能取得成功。

上述理念的时机似乎已经成熟,并且与奥巴马本人所代表的融合的胜利完全相符。但确定纳入经济融合理念的比喻还需要另外一个步骤。

经济融合是奥巴马首任期间最重要的成功。纵观美国历史,《平价医疗法案》(“奥巴马医疗法案”)成功地将更多人纳入私人保险系统,并使更多人能够享受医疗保健服务。多德-弗兰克金融改革创建了消费者金融保护局,从而使非公开发行的金融产品能更好地为公众服务,同时也创造出在公开市场交易衍生品的激励机制。他还签署了由共和党对手提出的《就业机会法案》,目的是成立集资网站,让中小投资者参与创办企业。

我们还远没有达到经济融合的顶峰。还有成百上千种可能性有待探索,包括改进投资者教育和金融咨询、灵活运用抵押贷款、深入推进证券化、提供更多种多样的生活保险及更好地管理职业风险因素。在完善公共期货及衍生产品市场方面的进展将有所助益,此外还有鼓励新兴国家更多参与美国经济的政策。(其实,融合的比喻从本质上来讲具有全球性,如果奥巴马过去就信奉这种精神,他的经济政策中可能会少些保护主义因素。)

恰当的比喻能将上述或其他类似理念融入美国未来的愿景,而上述愿景将像新政一样确保可以连贯实现。1月29日,奥巴马将发表新任期的首篇国情咨文。他应当思考怎样生动而令人信服地表达迄今为止指引他的原则,并确定美国未来的道路。

翻译:Xu Binbin

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  1. CommentedWaleed Addas

    How about, "Walking The Talk", for domestic affairs...

    Or "My Word is My Bond", for military affairs...

    "Upholding The Truth"--for foreign relations...

    as a metaphor?!

  2. CommentedStefan S

    Having a good metaphor would require having a real vision. Since 9/11, America has been suffering a failure of imagination. Since 2008, capitalism and democracy have been failing because of a lack of accountability. How about "Real Accountability"?

  3. CommentedCarol Maczinsky

    That is the propaganda layer, the US debt development is alarming, that is fundamental and leads to crisis.

  4. CommentedVenu Madhav

    Gosh this is a simple conundrum. I got two to choose from
    i. "Renewed Deal", or ii. " Rise like Phoenix" as the metaphor.

  5. CommentedJesse Durbin

    Forward is a good metaphor. Because "A conservative is a man with two perfectly good legs who, however, has never learned how to walk forward." --Franklin D. Roosevelt
    FDR introduced his new deal metaphor here:
    "I pledge you, I pledge myself, to a new deal for the American people. Let us all here assembled constitute ourselves prophets of a new order of competence and of courage. This is more than a political campaign; it is a call to arms. Give me your help, not to win votes alone, but to win in this crusade to restore America to its own people. " http://newdeal.feri.org/speeches/1932b.htm

    This is Obama's Forward metaphor ...his kickoff speech...his plan. edited:
    OBAMA: "We have come too far to abandon the change we fought for these past few years. We have to move forward, to the future we imagined in 2008, where everyone gets a fair shot, and everyone does their fair share, and everyone plays by the same rules. That’s the choice in this election, and that’s why I’m running for a second term as President of the United States.

    "Governor Romney is a patriotic American who has raised a wonderful family, and he has much to be proud of. He’s run a large financial firm, and he’s run a state. But I think he has drawn the wrong lessons from those experiences. He sincerely believes that if CEOs and wealthy investors like him make money, the rest of us will automatically prosper as well."

    AUDIENCE: "Booo."

    OBAMA: "When a woman in Iowa shared the story of her financial struggles, he responded with economic theory. He told her, “our productivity equals our income.” Well, let me tell you something. The problem with our economy isn’t that the American people aren’t productive enough -- you’ve been working harder than ever. The challenge we face right now -- the challenge we faced for over a decade is that harder work hasn’t led to higher incomes. It’s that bigger profits haven’t led to better jobs.

    "Governor Romney doesn’t seem to get that. He doesn’t seem to understand that maximizing profits by whatever means necessary -- whether through layoffs or outsourcing or tax avoidance or union-busting -- might not always be good for the average American or for the American economy.

    "Why else would he want to spend trillions more on tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans? Why else would he propose cutting his own taxes while raising them on 18 million working families? Why else would he want to slash the investments that have always helped the economy grow, but at the same time, stop regulating the reckless behavior on Wall Street that helped the economy crash?

    "Somehow, he and his friends in Congress think that the same bad ideas will lead to a different result. Or they’re just hoping you won’t remember what happened the last time we tried it their way.

    "Well, Ohio, I’m here to say that we were there, we remember, and we are not going back. We are moving this country forward.

    "Look, we want businesses to succeed. We want entrepreneurs and investors rewarded when they take risks, when they create jobs and grow our economy. But the true measure of our prosperity is more than just a running tally of every balance sheet and quarterly profit report. I don’t care how many ways you try to explain it: Corporations aren’t people. People are people.

    "We measure prosperity not just by our total GDP; not just by how many billionaires we produce, but how well the typical family is doing -- whether they can go as far as their dreams and hard work will take them.

    "And we understand that in this country, people succeed when they have a chance to get a decent education and learn new skills -- and, by the way, so do the businesses that hire them or the companies that they start.

    "We know that our economy grows when we support research into medical breakthroughs and new technologies that lead to the next Internet app or life-saving drug.

    "We know that our country is stronger when we can count on affordable health insurance and Medicare and Social Security. When we protect our kids from toxic dumping and mercury pollution. When there are rules to make sure we aren’t taken advantage of by credit card companies and mortgage lenders and financial institutions. And we know these rules aren’t just good for seniors, or kids, or consumers -- they're good for business, too. They're part of what makes the market work.

    "Look, we don’t expect government to solve all our problems, and it shouldn’t try. I learned from my mom that no education policy can take the place of a parent’s love and affection. As a young man, I worked with a group of Catholic churches who taught me that no poverty program can make as much of a difference as the kindness and commitment of a caring soul. Not every regulation is smart. Not every tax dollar is spent wisely. Not every person can be helped who refuses to help themselves.

    "But that’s not an excuse to tell the vast majority of responsible, hardworking Americans, 'You’re on your own.' That unless you’re lucky enough to have parents who can lend you money, you may not be able to go to college. That even if you pay your premiums every month, you’re out of luck if an insurance company decides to drop your coverage when you need it most.

    "That’s not how we built America. That’s not who we are. We built this country together. We built this country together.

    "We built railroads and highways; the Hoover Dam, the Golden Gate Bridge -- together. We sent my grandfather’s generation to college on the GI Bill -- together. We instituted a minimum wage and worker safety laws -- together. Together, we touched the surface of the moon, unlocked the mystery of the atom, connected the world through our own science and imagination. We did these things together -- not because they benefited any particular individual or group, but because they made us all richer. Because they gave us all opportunity. Because they moved us forward together -- as one people, as one nation.

    "That’s the true lesson of our past, Ohio. That’s the right vision for our future. And that’s why I’m running for President.

    "I’m running to make sure that by the end of the decade, more of our citizens hold a college degree than any other nation on Earth. I want to help our schools hire and reward the best teachers, especially in math and science. I want to give two million more Americans the chance to go to community colleges and learn the skills that local businesses are looking for right now. In the 21st century, higher education can’t be a luxury -- it is an economic imperative that every American should be able to afford. That’s the choice in this election. That’s why I’m running for President.

    "I’m running to make sure the next generation of high-tech manufacturing takes root in places like Columbus and Cleveland and Pittsburgh and Richmond. I want to stop rewarding businesses that ship jobs and profits overseas, and start rewarding companies that create jobs right here in the United States of America. That’s the choice in this election.

    "I’m running so that we can keep moving towards a future where we control our own energy. Our dependence on foreign oil is at its lowest point in 16 years. By the middle of the next decade, our cars will average nearly 55 miles per gallon. Thousands of Americans have jobs, right now, because the production of renewal energy in this country has nearly doubled in just three years.

    "So now is not the time to cut these investments to pay for another $4 billion giveaway to the oil companies. Now is the time to end the subsidies for an industry that’s rarely been more profitable. Let’s double down on a clean energy future that’s never been more promising -- for our economy, and for our security, and for the safety of our planet. That’s why I’m running for President. That’s the choice in this election, Ohio."
    http://articles.latimes.com/print/2012/may/05/news/la-pn-transcript-obama-campaign-kickoff-20120505

  6. CommentedProcyon Mukherjee

    It is pleasantly surprising to see that the search for metaphors have taken us to India, where"inclusive growth" was made popular by the India Development Policy Review 2006 titled "Inclusive Growth and Service Delivery: Building on India's Success". This report focuses on two major challenges facing India: improving the delivery of core public services, and maintaining rapid growth while spreading the benefits of this growth more widely. Before 2006, 'inclusive growth' as a chosen metaphor never existed.

    If one goes for the success of this metaphor in India, jury is still out.

    Procyon Mukherjee

  7. CommentedAllan Hauer

    True wisdom can be expressed in simple but powerful ways. We’re really talking about the power of the American dream-truly inclusive democracy. Such a picture has to be built on the strong foundation of an educated, healthy society. This is where the spark of free enterprise ignites and blends the individual and community, the singular genius with collective inspiration.

  8. CommentedG. A. Pakela

    The President has no vision other than the reverse of "starving the beast." In the reverse case, the runnup in debt and interest on the debt makes it impossible to finance defense spending.

    Inclusive society will eventually mean more of us will be included in the invevitable tax increases that must take place to fund existing and new entitlements.

      CommentedJohn Brian Shannon

      Hi G.A. Pakela,

      Even at the recently lowered U.S. defense spending levels, the U.S.A. military budget is larger than the next 12 nations combined military spending.

      Not only that, it is the best equipped (already) best trained (already) and most experienced military on the planet, by significant margins.

      And, nobody wants to fight America.

      First, they would lose!
      Second, other nations would prevent it, as they have too much to lose by any harm coming to the U.S. economy.
      Third, any nation daring to attack the U.S. would, by its own actions, incur grievous economic and military harm.

      The idea that any country would attack the U.S. is preposterous, now that the Cold War is over.

      So, why would the U.S. need a $1.5 trillion (or whatever) defense budget?

      Best regards, JBS

  9. CommentedJohn Brian Shannon

    Hi Robert,

    President Obama did bring about change in his first term. The President laid out his positions on energy, energy security and sustainable energy some time ago.

    In fact, he wrote me a letter back in March 2012 outlining these very topics. It is a profound document and it is available to read on my website at: http://johnbrianshannon.com

    At the time, these seemed like grand, but somewhat unreachable goals. But not now, less than a year later. For an overview of this, visit: http://arabiangazette.com/biggest-energy-story-2012/

    Check out what the IEA is saying about President Obama's startlingly successful energy, energy security and sustainable energy policies here:

    http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/11/12/us-iea-oil-report-idUSBRE8AB0IQ20121112

    "(Reuters) - The United States will overtake Saudi Arabia and Russia as the world's top oil producer by 2017, the West's energy agency said on Monday, predicting Washington will come very close to achieving a previously unthinkable energy self-sufficiency." (article continues)

    President Obama promised change in America's energy future -- and he delivered unprecedented change!

    Which gives me hope.

    Hope that this President can overcome the economic malaise that has embraced the West and the U.S.A., with a bit of cooperation from U.S. politicians and allies of America.

    Your article Robert, if I may say so, asks the most important question of all, what should that change be and what should it be named?

    Many Americans and America's well-wishers around the globe are unhappy with the inequality in the U.S.

    Initially the U.S. became great on account of the opportunities to citizens (first) and immigrants (second) and its trading partners around the world. This is what built America. The hopes and aspirations of several generations who saw the opportunities America offered to those who worked smart and hard and invested well.

    For those who can be honest about it, those opportunities have dissipated to an alarming degree in the U.S.A. in recent decades.

    Rarely can one finish their education, begin a career at one level and years later, finish their career as a CEO or owner of a large and prosperous business. People have little upward mobility and for those born into poverty situations, the vast majority of them live in poverty until they pass out of this world -- no matter how great their work ethic!

    This has been well-documented elsewhere, so I won't go on about it at length here.

    But if anything is going to help restore citizens faith in the American dream, and restore the faith of America's well-wishers around the world, it is a better-educated society.

    One of the best ways to improve peoples economic standing, (according the the UN and other organizations expert in governance and human development) are by society-wide improvements to health and education.

    It needn't cost a trillion dollars -- but it does need direction.

    The same sort of direction that President Obama used to take America from a nation addicted to foreign oil, and turn it into an energy net exporter, and almost energy self-sufficient nation and a nation on the forefront of sustainable energy worldwide. All accomplished during a time of unprecedented worldwide economic upheaval. Well done, Mr. President!

    So, where are we now?

    An energy-secure America. Done. Check.
    A uniformly healthy America. In progress.
    A uniformly college-educated America? Let's hope.

    If this President's first term accomplishments are remembered as making America energy secure and a well-begun universal health-care plan -- then let us hope that his second term will be remembered by a "Done. Check." on a uniformly healthy American society and a well-begun college education plan for American citizens, so that they too, can become part of America's economic solution and success.

    Best regards, JBS
    http://jbsnews.com





      CommentedJohn Brian Shannon

      NOTE:

      I re-wrote my original comment, added to it, and posted it at my blog.

      You can read it at: http://jbsnews.com/2013/01/10/president-obama-restoring-the-dream/

      Cheers, JBS

  10. Commentedjim bridgeman

    This assumes that there has in fact been a driving spirit beyond winning elections. There is no evidence of that. In fact the predominance of dead metaphor (aka sloganeering) is evidence that the entire motivation has been attaining and maintaining power rather than what would be done with the power. Indeed, Affordable Care is best read as the single legislative achievement most likely to cement the left element to the electoral coalition.

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